The blog this week was written by Allison Hammond, Program Director at The Arcadia Institute. The theme for this Blog was to be about “Taking Time” to get to know the people with disabilities in the Community Broker Process; however, that sounds like we are taking something away from people. In thinking about the topic, I believe we are giving the person and the Community Broker precious time. Time to build relationships and trust is what makes connections in the community authentic.
For some of the people engaged in the Community Broker process, the time to get to know them is fairly straightforward. We meet with them, learn about their interests, discover their gifts and just right connections happen quickly.
However, some people have been involved with special programs and segregated settings so they really have never had a chance to explore opportunities in the community. The time that has been “taken” from them in these settings has limited their ability to really think about who they are and what they want. Often they have just said yes to activities from a set menu of programmatic options.
So when a person who has not had much experience in the broader community the Brokering Process provides the gift of time. The Broker spends time with the person in their homes, in recreational settings, at coffee shops, visiting prospective places where the person might volunteer or work, and exploring independent living arrangements. Sometimes the most precious time is just being in the car and having a conversation.
Once the Community Broker really knows the persons gifts, interests, hopes and dreams, then the just right fit in the community happens. People are welcomed, supported and respected by the people around them. The community wants the person to be successful and shares responsibility for accommodating a persons various needs. The community experiences the benefits of being a place where everyone belongs and is supported.
The gift of time is what the Community Broker Process shares with individuals and to the community.